5 Best Practices for Onboarding Hybrid Sales Teams
Nearly every day you hear about a company declaring remote work is over and it’s time for employees to return to the office.
The truth is, however, we are not going back to pre-pandemic days of sales reps working in the office eight hours a day, five days a week. Most companies will have flexible hours and hybrid workforces for the foreseeable future. According to Brandon Hall Group, 67% of workers are projected to be remote in 2022 and beyond.
While organizations have had to operate under those conditions over the past two years, many have not mastered it. Processes patched together as a stopgap are not enough. Forward-looking companies will create a strategic plan for meeting the needs of a hybrid workforce—including onboarding.
As long as sales teams seek to recruit and hire beyond their local talent pool, onboarding remote new hires will remain a challenge. Organizations must change the tools and tactics they use during onboarding so they can better prepare hybrid sales reps for their jobs and provide cultural connection.
Other onboarding challenges organizations face are:
- Record turnover and hiring
- Ensuring new hires retain information
- Guaranteeing employees dedicate time to training
- Pressure to ramp up employees quickly
- Lack of tools to support hybrid environments
There’s no doubt those are large obstacles to overcome. But with a modern onboarding approach, you can address all of them and ensure all your new sales reps—wherever they are located—get up to speed quickly, develop relationships with their peers, and have great experiences that make them want to stay.
The following best practices will help with that. Once implemented, you will improve learning, increase sellers’ engagement, create an overall sense of belonging, and help new reps be fully engaged at work.
5 Onboarding Best Practices for Hybrid Sales Teams
1. Put Culture First
Your goal is to provide connections for people through processes and technology. Onboarding is a prime opportunity to introduce your organizational values and culture. A great way to express those values is to show your sales reps that although productivity matters, it isn’t the only metric by which they are judged.
Create opportunities for employees to express their voice and personality, to meet with other members of the team (in person or remotely), and work together for a common cause. A shared sense of mission will go a long way to showing your organizational values, which is more lasting than simply stating those values.
One fun example: Your company could participate in Walktober, with departments dividing into teams to compete for the most number of steps walked in the month of October. Team members can walk together or on their own. Use an app to track participants’ steps, display team standings, share healthy recipes, and allow participants to message and chat with one another. Your company could also use the event to raise money for a charity, donating X number of dollars for every mile walked, for example.
2. Create an Everboarding Journey
Onboarding can be a very formal process, with a defined beginning and end, with the end being when someone completes onboarding and starts their new role.
The more modern approach to onboarding, however, is to think of it more holistically as “everboarding,” where onboarding and learning are part of the culture. That doesn’t stop after a week, or three weeks, or 90 days. It’s a way of thinking that shifts the mindset to onboarding being just a start.
With everboarding, you continually share best approaches to reps in the field, deliver bite-sized learning that sellers need to succeed in today’s dynamic business environment, and reinforce learning with quizzes and flash drills. The ultimate goal is the same as traditional onboarding: connecting people, making sure they have a great experience, and ultimately training and retaining the best employees possible.
3. Engage Current Employees to Establish Community
Onboarding can often be seen as a process to get through rather than an opportunity to foster a sense of collective action. Having new sales reps talk about their experiences on video or giving them a chance to express more of their personality helps new sellers feel connected and gives existing reps a chance to feel part of something bigger.
Peer-to-peer learning also goes a long way toward developing connectedness and building engagement, especially among sales professionals. Sellers love to hear from other sellers, and experienced reps love to share stories. So, encourage your high-performing sellers to share best practices, successes, and stories from the trenches.
4. Have the Right Systems in Place to Support Onboarding
When looking at the most common onboarding approaches, experiential (on-the-job) learning and peer-to-peer learning were the most common, Brandon Hall Group research found. However, as sales teams have shifted to having many more remote or hybrid reps, those styles of learning require technology that organizations may not have.
Having the right systems in place to support early learning is important for onboarding, but organizations must be able to determine if that early learning is having an effect. And that requires more than one system (or if it is one system, all the connected modules).
Currently, just over half of organizations can connect their Learning Management System (LMS), Human Resources Information System (HRIS), and Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to their onboarding solution, but at most, only two-thirds of all organizations have any systems integration at all.
To determine if onboarding activities affect retention, talent mobility, and even leadership development, you must have systems that are integrated and provide data and analysis.
5. Develop Long-term Onboarding Metrics
With the right systems and tools, you can track attendance, monitor completion of online or in-person events, view competency levels, track knowledge mastery, and measure content effectiveness.
In addition, you should develop listening and surveying practices for feedback for additional ways to measure success. If an organization truly wants to think strategically about hybrid onboarding, the way they measure success must reflect that commitment.
While time-to-full-productivity is and should remain one of the most important onboarding metrics, measuring other aspects such as diversity and inclusion, engagement, and connections/communication are just as valid to determine the success of your onboarding efforts.
Modern Onboarding for a Modern Workforce
A modern onboarding process puts sellers at the center of your training approach and supports them the way they want to learn—regardless of where they are located. By creating a culture of community, continual education, and engagement, not only will you empower your reps to succeed but do so in a way that makes them feel included and valued.
Download How to Transform Your Onboarding for Today’s Hybrid Workforce and learn how to implement a holistic onboarding process that puts culture first, encourages collaboration, and measures success.